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‘Absolutely amazing’ | Family, friends mourn slain DC Safe Passage worker

Someone shot and killed Michael Gaddis outside Coolidge High School Monday. He leaves behind four children, according to family.

WASHINGTON — The family of a safe passage worker who was shot and killed outside a DC high school Monday continues to grieve.

Thirty-six-year-old Michael Gaddis, of Northwest D.C., died at the intersection of 5th and Somerset Place NW, across from Coolidge High School. The incident caused Coolidge, Wells Middle School and Whittier Elementary School to go into lockdown Monday afternoon.

The Metropolitan Police Department informed the public of Gaddis’ passing Tuesday morning. Shortly after, stories about the impact he made in D.C.’s Brightwood and Takoma neighborhoods flooded social media.

Gaddis’ family said he also worked as a barber in Takoma and had a budding career as a singer and musician.

“He wanted to do music,” said Gaddis’ godbrother Kevin Hunter. “He had followers in North Carolina. He had viral videos.”

Hunter added that Gaddis was passionate about helping children at Coolidge in his capacity as a Safe Passage worker.

“He was absolutely amazing, especially for the kids,” Hunter said. “Just being in the community.”

Gaddis' 17-year-old son, Khali Gaddis, said he wanted people to know his father, who leaves behind three other children, was a good man. He said one of those children was only months old.

“Whoever speaks about my father, speak about him proudly,” he said.

Gaddis’ grandfather, Ernest Gaddis, said he practically raised Michael growing up. He said he had conversations with his grandson, before his passing, as to who he should and should not, hang around.

“Something can happen to you at any time because you’re not paying attention,” Ernest Gaddis said.

DC Police Chief Robert Contee said the investigation into Gaddis’ death is ongoing and that officers have not recovered a gun. 

“But, what I will say at this point is we're going to go where the evidence takes us," he said.

Contee said he was aware of rumors that Gaddis’ killer was a violence interrupter. He said, as of right now, that claim is unfounded.

"We're not actually at the position where we know who that is," Contee said. 

Gaddis was one of about 200 Safe Passage workers monitoring 47 schools. They post up at intersections near D.C. schools to keep kids out of trouble. Gaddis was off duty at the time of the shooting but MPD couldn't say whether or not he was about to come on duty as schools in the area were released. 

The city funded the program for the first time in Fiscal Year 2022, making it possible to pay these workers. It was part of a $4.3 million investment that Mayor Muriel Bowser announced in December 2021. That money funnels into six community-based organizations, called Safe Passage Safe Blocks providers, who hire and manage the workers. 

DC Police are offering a $25,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction in this case. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 202-727-9099. They can also anonymously text the department’s tip line by sending a text message to 50411.

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